California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law a bill that provides new protection for white sharks in state waters.
The regulation makes it unlawful to place any shark bait, shark lure or shark chum into the water within one nautical mile of any shoreline, pier or jetty when a white shark is either visible or known to be present.
Nonprofit watchdogs including Shark Stewards and scientists at the University of California Long Beach have documented numerous cases of intentional sports fishermen catching white sharks on public piers and beaches. In many cases, those fishermen release the sharks gaffed, injured, fatigued and agitated. Additionally, chumming near public beaches also attracts large sharks to areas of recreation, placing swimmers and surfers at risk.
California community science divers are contributing their observations to Shark Watch, a project of Shark Stewards to identify individuals in the wild, movements and shark catch. Using photo matching, they have helped identified several white sharks, 30 sevengill sharks and around the same amount of Tiger sharks in Hawaii. Locations are kept confidential and data will be applied to area and species conservation.
If you want to learn more, Shark Stewards has chartered a dive boat from Waterhorse Charters for divers interested in joining them and learning more, including a free California shark ID and MPA training online.
Open Water and above certified divers can join them on two dives in the La Jolla Cove Marine Reserve, searching and documenting sharks on October 15th. Afterwards, the public can participate on Ocean Awareness Day with the Walter Munk Foundation and Scripps Institute of Oceanography at Kellogg Park in La Jolla, California.